Mumbai (The Hindu): The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport undertaking (BEST) on Wednesday rolled back its decision to cancel bus services on 52 routes, and also slashed fare tariffs by 50 per cent on air-conditioned bus routes in the city.
A spokesperson for the BEST told The Hindu , “We have a total of 503 bus routes in Mumbai. While 52 routes had been cancelled owing to less than 30 per cent passenger frequency on these routes, 33 were restarted by Tuesday, and 17 cancelled routes were restarted on Wednesday. To achieve this, we have had to reorganise other routes and draw drivers and conductors deployed on other routes.”
He said the BEST administration slashed fares to popularise the AC bus service during the summer season. “Tariffs have been slashed for air-conditioned buses on 102 routes. The BEST has also introduced three new stages on bus routes [rationalised tariff structure based on distance covered]. Passengers will now pay only for the distance actually travelled by them.”
The spokesperson said under the revised tariff plan, passengers would be charged for the first stage [up to six km], then up to a second stage up to eight km and then up to a third stage of 10 km, benefiting passengers to some extent through lower ticket prices.
Two of the cancelled bus routes have not been restarted, howeber; the Kurla to Masrani Industrial Estate route will be restarted later, after the ongoing road work on the segment is completed.
BMC standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanse said that the strong public sentiment against the bus route cancellations had prompted the rethink and restarting of these essential bus services. “It is just like medical services provided by the BMC, which are not operated with a profit motive in mind. Transport services of the BEST are meant for the common public and have to be subsidised.”
On Monday, Mr Phanse’s party colleagues in the Shiv Sena had led a delegation to the BEST chairman Jagdish Patil's office demanding the restarting of the 52 cancelled bus routes.
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